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Archive for May, 2014

The Connection Between Children’s Heart Health And Exercise

Posted on: May 28th, 2014 by Pulse

children-heart-health

Many parents love to see their children exercise because of the many benefits that exercise and physical fitness offers to young people. Kids who exercise regularly have been shown to have higher self esteem and may have better focus at school and sleep better at night.

Another huge benefit of physical activity for kids is the high correlation between physical activity and juvenile heart health. Here are five heart healthy reasons to make sure your child is receiving the recommended hour a day of physical activity.

1. Exercise Has Been Shown to Increase Levels of HDL Cholesterol

Maintaining high levels of HDL plays a huge part in making sure that your child’s heart is healthy. While some people may associate cholesterol with negative heart health, the fact is that there are two different types of cholesterol.

HDL is often referred to as good cholesterol because in effect it keeps the body’s blood stream clean. HDL works to attack harmful cholesterol in the blood stream and helps lower instances of clogged arteries. Children who have higher levels of good cholesterol are much more likely to be healthy later in life and have a better chance of maintaining healthy cholesterol levels into adulthood.

2. Regular Exercise Maintains Weight

Physical fitness in children is very closely tied to their weight which, in turn, is directly related to heart health. Children who remain a healthy weight through out childhood are more likely to be fit as adults and are much less likely to suffer from conditions related to being overweight, which may include diabetes and hypertension.

In addition to being one of the key factors related to heart health, maintaining an ideal weight puts a child at much better odds for having a healthy self image.

3. Physical Fitness Helps Lower Blood Pressure

In addition to healthy cholesterol levels, a low blood pressure is tied to having good heart health. Children and adults with lower blood pressures put less strain on their cardiovascular systems. Like many other aspects of heart health, low blood pressure does matter as early as the beginning stages of childhood. Regular physical activity helps lower blood pressure and keeps weight regulated, which is also tied to having lower blood pressure.

4. Children With Good Heart Health Often Become Adults With Good Heart Health

Children who get into the habit of engaging in an hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day are much more likely to remain physically fit into adulthood. When children exercise frequently, they develop an enjoyment for a wide variety of physical activities and are less likely to view exercise as a chore as they get older.

This means that they are far more likely to benefit from exercise as they get older in many of the same ways that they do as children. A lifetime of eating well and exercising regularly greatly decreases odds of suffering from serious and even fatal diseases like heart disease.

5. Exercise Increases Endurance

When a child regularly engages in cardiovascular exercise, they build endurance, which allows them to continue exercising for longer intervals. This endurance is indicative of a healthy heart that is capable of supporting a child through increasingly longer and more difficult exercises.

In short, children who receive adequate levels of cardiovascular exercise generally become better athletes, which can yield a number of benefits that are mental as well as physical. Regular activity in young chidden puts them at much greater odds for becoming athletes and team players as adolescents and young adults. The benefits of these activities may include higher confidence and better grades as well as better leadership skills.

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5 Family Habits to Increase Health

Posted on: May 27th, 2014 by Pulse

healthy-family

Getting healthy may be the best thing that a person can do for themselves, but it is also much easier and more likely to happen when done in the context of a support system such as a family.  Families who practice good health together are much more likely to achieve fitness success and children who come from families who place an emphasis on good health have a higher chance of remaining health conscious well into adulthood. Here are five habits that you can become accustomed to that will keep your family fit and healthy.

  1. Cook Meals Together  Preparing meals is  wonderful chance for parents to help instill in their children and in themselves a connection between their food and the ingredients that go into it. Cooking meals also helps lower the amount of processed food that your family consumes and gets your whole family used to planning meals and being mindful of what they are eating. Is it also a wonderful way for the whole family to catch up with each other and to discuss one another’s weeks.
  2. Practice Electronics Free Days  It may not be realistic to expect your teens or yourself to go without their beloved phone all the time, but choosing one day a week or even on afternoon a week when the whole family agrees not to use the phone, computer, or television is a great way to encourage conversation as well as physical activities. No electronics days can be a wonderful chance to take a walk or a bike or scooter ride as a family or to head outside and use the basketball hoop for a game of HORSE.
  3. Walk or Ride Instead of Driving Some errands certainly require a car; it’s difficult enough to shop for an entire week of groceries, much less carry them home. There may be plenty of activities, however, that you and your family can run on foot or on a bike or scooter. Going to a friend’s birthday or getting dropped off at school can be a great way to get in some fun, recreation, and exercise while completing tasks that may otherwise be routine or mundane. Riding or walking to errands is a wonderful way to instill the habit of making regular exercise part of your day to day lives. It also helps kids get used to using alternative (more heart healthy) modes of transportation, and can be just as healthy on your wallet as it is on your body.
  4. Stay Hydrated Proper water intake is related to a number of health benefits. Water contains no calories, fat, or additives, making it the most naturally slimming beverage available. It also helps lower instances of headache and fatigue and may cut down on unnecessary snacking since the body may often mistake the signs of thirst with the signs of hunger. Drinking enough water also flushes toxins from the body and allows for optimal performance in physical activities.
  5. Turn Chores Into a Good Time the Whole Family Can Enjoy Sometimes getting enough physical activity can be as easy and simple as spending a day getting the house and yard into shape. Pulling weeds, pushing a lawn mower, and trimming hedges are all wonderful forms of exercise that can be great ways to encourage the whole family to contribute. Doing activities like washing the cars on a hot day is a great excuse to step into bathing suits and can get the whole family moving while saving cash by avoiding a professional car-wash. Even vacuuming and sweeping can easily become fun, heart friendly activities with the right attitude and music.

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5 Safety Tips For Scooter Riders

Posted on: May 25th, 2014 by Pulse

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Scooter riding can be a fun and exciting form of physical activity that has many benefits. Riding scooters is  a great way to explore the outdoors and is a wonderful way to make physical activity fun. It is also an activity that can be enjoyed by riders of all ages. It is important, however, that all scooter riders consider safety first at all times. Here are five important tips for scooter safety.

  1. Always Wear A Helmet and Other Safety Gear Helmets are an indispensable component of good scooter safety. Wearing a helmet puts riders at a much lower risk for head injuries, which can be quite severe and may lead to permanent or long term damage. It is also a good idea for children and adults with vulnerable joints to wear protective gear on their wrists, elbows, and knees. This helps greatly reduce the instance of injuries. There are a number of helmets that are even designed to be attractive and interesting for young children and teens alike.
  2. Be Aware of Traffic and Traffic Laws Scooter riding, like riding a bicycle, means being aware of riding laws that dictate where and when scooters can be ridden. Young riders should not ride in areas where there is automobile traffic, unless they are being supervised by an adult who feels comfortable keeping an eye on them and making sure that they are out of the way of automobiles the whole time. Riders of all ages should make a habit of staying fully aware of their surroundings: frequently checking both sides of them and behind them. In areas where scooters share a sidewalk with pedestrians, care should be given to make sure that riders slow down when they are near individuals who are walking.
  3. Avoid Riding In Areas That Are Not Well Lit Riding at night or during hours of the day when auto drivers are subject to high levels of glare from the sun may be quite dangerous. Scooters should always be ridden during times of day when the rider and their scooter are highly dangerous. Even if it is light out, if it is close to sunset, drivers may be experiencing less visibility and may thus be more likely to not see a person riding a scooter. If children want to ride at night, they should always be accompanied by an adult, and both adults and children should have reflective gear on both their person and their scooter to make themselves more visible to drivers.
  4. Look For Paths That Are Designated For Bikes or Scooters Many cities and recreational areas have paths set aside that are specifically designed to be used by those who wish to ride scooters or bikes. These paths are ideal because they allow riders a place to ride freely without riding among pedestrians or cars. In many cases, these paths run along automotive roads, so it is still important to remain aware of auto traffic while in a riding lane.
  5. Avoid Steep Hills or Terrain That is Beyond Your Skill Level When riding, it is important that speeds never get so high that a rider cannot stop comfortably and easily. Riders should never attempt to ride down hills that are so steep that they are not in control of the scooter or their ability to stop it. It is best for beginning riders to slowly test their abilities on different terrains and to make sure that they can stop quickly if need be. Riders should also always bear in mind that they should step off their scooter if they feel that they can no longer control it.

Creating A DIY Summer Camp For Your Kids

Posted on: May 22nd, 2014 by Pulse

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As summer is fast approaching, many parents may be bombarded with requests from their children to send them to summer camp. For many kids, summer camp offers the chance to make good friends and to enjoy sports and activities they may not get to partake in at home. Summer camp can, however, be very expensive.

Many families may also simply not have the time in their busy schedules to send their kids away to camp for long periods of time. This does not mean, however, that your child cannot get the full experience of a stay at camp. Here are some great tips on how you can DIY your very own camp experience.

Invite Neighborhood Kids Over For a Back Yard Camp Out

The great outdoors may be no further away than your very own back yard. Have your child invite friends over and encourage children to bring tents over. Supervise as they set up the tents and decide who will sleep in which tent. Tell each tent to give themselves a name and set up tables where they can design signs to be placed on the outside of each tent.

Be Prepared With Day Time Activities

One of the best things about camp is the number of exciting outdoor activities that kids have the chance to participate in. Have a number of activities planned that can be played either individually or in teams, which can be divided based on who is in the various tents. You can arrange competitions like three legged races, wherein teams of two put on leg in each sack.

You can also set up a number of different types of relays, from running races around the neighborhood to scooter relays that allow kids to ride scooters at intervals before trading off. Keep a blackboard up that tracks various team’s progress and offer small rewards for the winning teams, such as ice cream sandwiches or drug store water guns.

Take Field Trips

Just because you do not have everything you need for a camp experience in your backyard does not mean that your little camper and their friends cannot take part in the full camp experience. If, for example, you do not have a pool, arrange a group trip to your community pool. It may help to invite older kids or other parents to help ensure that kids are all well supervised. You can also arrange group hikes in your area.

Start by working with the kids to pack a bag of healthy snacks or mixing a healthy trail mix. Look at a map before you leave and help all campers get a good sense of where you will be headed. While hiking, be sure to point out interesting plants and wildlife along the way.

Start A Fire

No camp experience is complete without the ever popular camp fire. You may be able to easily create a fire pit in your own backyard by using the drum of an old washing machine or even constructing one with bricks. It can also be relatively inexpensive to purchase free standing fire pits. Buy the supplies for s’mores: graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, and use old wire hangers to roast marshmallows.

Encourage kids to tell campfire stories by suggesting topics. Older kids may even be able to be left alone by the fire, and younger children will enjoy the experience of learning how to build a fire and keep it going. Once the fire is out, set a “lights out time” that all campers must be asleep by, but allow them to talk in their tents for a while before falling asleep.

photo credit: Rambalac via photopin cc

3 Scooter Games For Kids

Posted on: May 15th, 2014 by Pulse

krusher-bingo-pink-freestyle-scooter

Scooter games are a fun and easy way to turn any backyard or physical activity classroom into a chance for kids to learn teamwork and interpersonal skills, while also learning to make good decisions and to think quickly on their feet.

Scooter games can be played by kids of a variety of ages and allow children to entertain themselves and enhance their skills, all while having fun and increasing their heart health. Here are three scooter games that are sure to keep kids having fun day in and day out.

Scooter Interstate

This is a game that has a variety of steps and can be set up in either a backyard or in a gymnasium. Create a boundary that is fairly large and spans most of the gym or yard. This can be done with cones or chalk, if the game is being played on concrete. If you are using chalk, draw an arrow to indicate which way traffic should flow. If you are playing in a gym, do this with a one way sign. Along the “interstate,” create “exits,” where different activities must be completed.

These activities can range from a wide variety of physical activities. If the game is being played in a gym, kids can hike up bleachers. They can also do push ups, sit ups, or jumping jacks or engage in activities that use additional equipment, such as hula hoop. When they have completed the activity, they get back on their scooters and continue on the interstate.

The student who completes all of their tasks correctly and gets to their final destination first wins the game.

Relay Races

Relay races are a wonderful basic activity that encourage speed, dexterity, and teamwork. Scooter relay races operate in much the same way that walking or running ones do. To set up, create borders on each side of the playing area. This can be done with lines of cones or by drawing a line or using existing lines in the space.

Players pair up in teams, which can range from three to any number of people, as long as teams are even. The first rider starts at one end of the field and rides his or her scooter as quickly as they can to the other boundary, where the next teammate gets on the scooter and rides back to another side of the field where yet another teammate is waiting. This continues until all teammates have ridden.

The team who gets through their entire line up first wins the game. Scooter relays can be modified in a number of ways, including using cones or flags to create areas along the course that must be maneuvered around.

Pick Up Sticks

This game combines the cardiovascular exercise of scooter riding with hand eye coordination. Players should be divided into teams, each of which should have a container that is designated for them. A wide variety of objects can then be scattered around the playing area. These objects should vary in shape and size and be placed far enough away from one another that two scooters will not collide when attempting to go for the same object.

Each player then scoots around the playing area and picks up one item a time while on their scooter. They must then ride the scooter to deposit the item in their team’s bin. The game ends when all items have been cleared from the playing area and the team who has the highest number of items in their bin at the end of the game wins. To make the game more difficult, it can also be timed.

‘Green Exercise’ Contributing To Healthier Children

Posted on: May 11th, 2014 by Pulse

green-exercise

There are a number of reasons that physical activity is an important, and some may argue, necessary element of any child’s life. Children who exercise regularly have less behavior problems and are often shown to exhibit much better academic performance. Many parents and educators alike have recently begun to search for ways to keep kids healthy and active, while instilling a love for exercise.

Several of today’s most popular exercise methods for kids are as environmentally friendly as they are fun. Here are a few types of green exercise that are keeping kids excited to stay physically active.

Hiking

Family hikes are a very popular and beneficial form of exercise that kids and adults can enjoy together. This is a very green activity because when hikers are respectful of the environment around them, they do little to damage the ecological elements around them. Hiking is a wonderful form of cardiovascular exercise that also strengthens the legs and core. It is an ideal family exercise because it provides a wonderful opportunity for parents to instill in their children a love for the outdoors and a curiosity for the plants and wildlife they encounter along the way.

Scooter and Bike Riding

Riding scooters and bikes is an exhilarating experience that combines cardiovascular exercise with a love for adventure. Riding scooters and bikes as a child can greatly increase one’s chances of using green methods of transportation as they enter adulthood. Scooter and bike riding are also activities that can be done virtually anywhere: from one’s own neighborhood to the streets of a new town.

It can be a fun and truly exciting way of exploring a new city. Riding scooters and bikes is also an ideal way for kids to strengthen their navigation skills as well as their sense of confidence.

Ocean Or Lake Swimming

Swimming is a form of exercise that one can truly engage in through out their entire lives. It is an activity that is fun for kids and encourages them to spend time outdoors. Swimming in an ocean or lake is a particularly green form of exercise because it does not require the use of any chemicals.

Children may be introduced to ocean or lake swimming at a very young age if they are properly supervised and have been equipped with life vests. Kids who are introduced to green water sports at a young age may also be far more likely to enjoy other water sports, such as surfing or water skiing as they get older.

Zip Lining

Zip lining is a sport that is popular in many very lush areas of the world. Zip lining is a very thrilling activity that allows children and their parents to enjoy a truly unique and spectacular view of the world they are exploring. Zip lining presents a very minimal environmental impact, as the equipment used is highly minimal and poses no permanent change to the area it is constructed in.

Zip lining with kids is a wonderful way to introduce the concepts of fun and adventure in exercise and to get them excited about the possibility of thrilling outdoor activities.

Kayaking

Kayaking is a very green sport because it requires the use of no gasoline and allows kids and their parents to explore rivers and creeks while enjoying upper body strengthening. Kayaking can be paired with camping, and many areas offer tours that combine kayaking adventures with overnight camping stays, which can truly excite the imagination of a child and allow them to be introduced to the basics of kayaking. Kayaking is a truly thrilling and challenging activity the whole family can enjoy.

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Aaron Fortheringham Adds Resilience To Nitro Circus Roster

Posted on: May 7th, 2014 by Pulse

The Nitro Circus Tour is one of the most successful and popular franchises in the world of extreme sports. Having gained tremendous popularity as an MTV show, and then feature film, the Nitro Circus Tour performs in countries all over the world to sold out crowds.

What separates the Nitro Circus from other forms of live sporting events is its tendency toward unconventional events and a highly creative use of various pieces of equipment. The daring athletes of the Nitro Circus Tour have enjoyed much praise for their brave and awe inspiring tricks, and one athlete who has impressed audiences across the world has been Aaron Fotheringham.

Aaron Fotheringham: An Athlete With Dimension

Aaron Fotheringham is an extreme athlete who uses his wheelchair to perform jaw dropping and  exciting tricks. The 23 year old athlete has spina bifida, which he has had his entire life. He has used a wheel chair since age three and has been performing tricks in his chair since he was very young. Aaron first began to experiment with doing tricks in his wheelchair when he was very young and at a BMX park with his brother.

After becoming fascinated with watching BMX tricks, Aaron took the advice of his older brother and began experimenting with using his chair to perform tricks at the park. Fotheringham immediately fell in love with doing tricks and began to practice and learn new tricks day in and day out.

Customized Equipment

Now an integral part of the Nitro Circus Team, Fotheringham, like many of his fellow athletes, uses equipment that helps him maximize the degree to which he can perform tricks. Fotheringham uses a chair that is as lightweight as possible. His chair is customized and made by a company called Box Wheelchairs. It is ideal for doing tricks and performing because of the fact that it is lightweight and aerodynamic and that it uses four wheel suspension.

The fact that Fotheringham’s wheelchair is designed to be so versatile makes it a piece of equipment that allows him to perform tricks in it that are similar to many of the tricks that are done by athletes on bikes or skateboards. The suspensions on the wheels help lessen the impact of landings after high speed tricks. After having enjoyed the benefits of using a performance chair, Fotheringham has also begun to work with Box Wheelchairs to develop chairs that can be used in the real world by those looking for a more durable char.

An Impressive Career

Aaron-Fortheringham-Nitro-Circus

Fotheringham is certainly  a valuable asset to the Nitro Circus team, not only because of the tricks he performs with them, but also because of his impressive track record away from the Nitro Circus. He regularly competes in BMX competitions, and often goes head to head with traditional BMX riders.

Safe Practicing

Like many professional extreme athletes, Fotheringham has suffered a substantial number of injuries while in the process of learning new tricks. He reports that he has broken elbows and suffered a number of other injuries while practicing, and strongly recommends that athletes at all levels of the sport wear a helmet. When learning a new trick, Fotheringham starts out by doing it over a foam pit, where the risk of injury is low.

Once he has begun to feel comfortable at the foam pit, he moves on to doing the trick over a ‘resi,’ which is a hard plastic sheet that is placed over the cushions, and which more closely simulates the actual experience of landing. Finally, Fotheringham begins to do the trick over an actual skateboard ramp, which is how it is done in performances.

Invisible Bike Helmet Created By Two Swedes

Posted on: May 3rd, 2014 by Pulse

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Two inventors in Sweden have made quite a splash in both the world of biking and entrepreneurship by developing a product that many people believed was nearly impossible: an invisible bike helmet. Recently, inventors Anna Haupt and Terese Alsti impressed and surprised many when they unveiled their invention, which is called the Hovding Helmet. The inventing duo have spoken out about what inspired them to develop their ground breaking product and why they believe the Hovding Helmet is so important to the future of traveling, commuting and style.

How the Invisible Helmet Came About

Both Anna Haupt and Terese Alsti consider themselves avid bikers and believe that cycling is the mode of transportation of the future, and that cars are a thing of the past. As avid bikers, they often found the sensation of wearing a helmet somewhat cumbersome, comparing it to having a mushroom on their head. They did not like the fact that wearing a helmet prevented them from feeling the wind in their hair while they rode, but they also recognized the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bike, especially in urban areas where cyclists often share the road with motor vehicles.

The duo spent seven years consulting with experts in a number of fields. They spoke with head trauma specialists, who helped them to understand the physics behind head injuries. They also used models to simulate some of the most common accidents and studied what exactly happens when a cyclist is involved in a high impact accident. After speaking with experts and reviewing their data, the two came up with a design for a helmet that is as stylish as it is safe: a helmet that provides full protection of the head while simultaneously allowing for the rider to enjoy the open air.

How It Works

The Hovding Helmet allows riders to experience the feeling of riding without helmet because it is  worn as a scarf of sorts that is strapped around a rider’s neck. The scarf is activated when it is snapped together. It remains in its scarf shape until the event that a rider is involved in an accident of some kind. At that point, the helmet, which is in effect constructed out of what are essentially airbags that surround the head, deploys and covers and protects the rider’s head instantly.

Alsti and Haupt have tested the helmet in a number of varying accident scenarios and have found it to be an effective means of warding off injury in the event that a serious accident should arise.

Is It Available In the United States?

The Hovding Helmet is not currently available in United States stores, but it can be purchased online at the company’s website. Currently, the price point of the helmet is significantly higher than that of regular helmets: an invisible helmet costs and average of two hundred ninety nine euros, or roughly five hundred dollars, in comparison to traditional helmets, which can be purchased for somewhere between forty and eighty dollars. Some critics site the high price point of the invisible air bag helmets as being a reason that they are not a practical option for widespread use.

Others question the safety of the airbag helmets versus traditional helmets, though both the inventors and a number of physicists argue that the mechanics behind them are sound. The airbag helmets certainly do offer a number of benefits both in terms of aesthetics and the overall experience of riding, and perhaps as they grow in popularity in Europe, they will become more widely available and more affordable in the United States and other counties.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons